Darrow Miller and Friends

Time to Stand with the People of Japan

Calling all DNA champions, supporters, partners, and friends,

The news coming out of Japan is horrific. Last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami wrought the biggest disaster to strike that nation since the end of World War II. As of this writing, more than 10,000 have perished and Japanese authorities are scrambling to avert possibly two nuclear reactor meltdowns. I just received this message from a close friend living in Tokyo:

Prime minister Kan announced the Electricity blackout starting March 14 because of short supply of power.  This is an Emergency situation. We who are living in Tokyo are scheduled to have 3 to 6 hours blackout every day.This means much of the city functions go haywire. Computer shut down, water supply cut off, gas supply shut off. I expect a lot of confusion in the capital city Tokyo.

Japan is one of the world’s most economically developed nations; it is also one of the world’s most spiritually impoverished. The teenage suicide rate is among the highest in the world. The church comprises less than 1% of the population. A sense of hopelessness and lack of purpose pervades Japanese culture. Yet this is a nation that God deeply loves and has promised to bless. I too love Japan. I served there for two years after graduating from college as an English teacher working in local churches in the Osaka area. It was a life changing experience for me, and I came to deeply care for the special people of Japan.

Dr. Eisuke Kanda, CEO of Friends with the Voiceless Int'l

I have some dear Japanese friends. One of them, Dr. Eisuke Kanda, recently established a new DNA national affiliate in Japan, Friends with the Voiceless International. I am truly honored to know Dr. Kanda. He is an influential leader in the Japanese church, having served as the national director of Campus Crusade for Christ, and then later as the president of Japan International Food for the Hungry.

I was together with Dr. Kanda last week in Pretoria, South Africa for the 2011 DNA global forum. He is passionate to see Christ’s Bride in Japan rise up with a vision for the Kingdom of God.

Since the earthquake and tsunami struck, I’ve been exchanging emails with Dr. Kanda. In one of his emails, he wrote the following:

I think God is challenging our society’s value system. How fragile is money and power. Even many churches are defiled by this value. I believe that this is the time for Japanese church and society to repent and humble ourselves and come back to God. We will see His mighty power. We covet your prayers.

Dr. Kanda and his staff at Friends with the Voiceless have already joined with a coalition of Evangelical churches in Japan under the auspices of CRASH (Christian Relief Assistance, Support, and Hope), to coordinate a church-based relief response to the disaster. As I write, Dr. Kanda is attempting to make his way north from Tokyo to the areas most heavily impacted on behalf of this network.

I appeal to all readers of this blog to pray for the nation of Japan. This horrible tragedy is also a powerful opportunity for the church of Japan to courageously and sacrifically reach out in the power of God’s Spirit to demonstrate Christ’s love; they need our help.

Because of our close relationship with Friends with the Voiceless and Dr. Kanda, as well as the leadership of Japan International Food for the Hungry, we are able to transfer funds directly into the hands of local churches responding to the disaster.

On Saturday, we sent out an email to DNA champions, friends, and partners around the world, inviting them to contribute funds through the DNA international secretariat office in Phoenix as a show of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Japan. We will transfer 100% of the funds we receive, which will be distributed to Japanese churches to help them rebuild and reach out in this crisis.

If you are a pastor, I urge you to prayerfully consider a special congregational offering next Sunday, March 20, to aid Japanese churches in reaching out to bless neighbors and rebuild communities. If you choose to send funds raised through the DNA, we will pass them all through to Dr. Kanda and Friends with the Voiceless Int’l.

I believe that this could be a pivotal moment for the struggling church in Japan. Pray that through this disaster, God’s church would arise in the power of the Spirit and demonstrate Christ’s love, compassion, and healing to people, families, and communities who have been devastated by this disaster. I love this quote from pastor Gary Skinner of Watoto Church in Kampala, Uganda. May this be true for the church in Japan in the weeks and months ahead:

The problems are not the communities’ problems—they’re our problems! They’re not the government’s problems. The government can’t fix the problems because—although it may have a little bit of money—it has no love… Love solves problems! And if the government does it, God does not get the glory. But when the church does it with love, God gets the glory.

– Scott Allen

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Scott Allen serves as president of the DNA secretariat office. After serving with Food for the Hungry for 19 years in both the United States and Japan, working in the areas of human resources, staff training and program management, he teamed up with Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt to launch the DNA in 2008. Scott is the author of Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide: A Call to Wholistic Life and Ministry and co-author of several books including, As the Family Goes, So Goes the Nation: Principles and Practices for Building Healthy Families. His most recent book is Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice. Scott lives with his wife, Kim, in Bend, OR. They have five children.